EWTN Catholic Q&A
Jerusalem Bible vs NAB
Question from Mike Larsen on 12-10-2003:

Father, I am studying the Gospel of St. John using the text of Stephen Ray. In one lesson a scripture passage referred to was Genesis 32: 24-32. In the Jerusalem Bible it is headed JACOB WRESTLES WITH GOD, in the New American Bible the heading reads STRUGGLE WITH THE ANGEL. In the Jerusalem Bible it begins: And there was one that wrestled with him until daybreak. In the NAB it reads: Then some man wrestled with him until the break of dawn. I am a little confused, can you explain to me exactly who was wrestling with Jacob? If it is an angel - which is what I would think, do you have any idea why the Jerusalem Bible would say JACOB WRESTLES WITH GOD? Yours in Christ, Mike Larsen

Answer by Fr. John Echert on 12-10-2003:

Genesis reads:

32:24 And Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 32:25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and Jacob's thigh was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 32:26 Then he said, "Let me go, for the day is breaking." But Jacob said, "I will not let you go, unless you bless me." 32:27 And he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob." 32:28 Then he said, "Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed." 32:29 Then Jacob asked him, "Tell me, I pray, your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And there he blessed him.

Clear this "man" was more than a man, though he had the appearance of form of a man. In fact, this figure was likely an angel, and since the angels represent God, especially in Old Testament manifestations, we can also regard this as figure as God. So, Jacob wrestled a figure who looked like a man, in essence was an angel, but as a mediator this angel represented God.

Thanks, Mike

Father Echert